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2020 Nobel Prize Physics: Roger Penrose, Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez declared winners 


Roger Penrose, Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez have been awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics for their pioneering work on space involving the black holes and the Milky Way’s darkest secret. Announcing the award, the Royal Swedish Academy of Science said one half of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to Roger Penrose and the other half jointly to Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez.

Roger Penrose won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on black hole and the general theory of relativity.

In its citation, the Academy said Roger Penrose was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics “for the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity.”

Meanwhile, Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez, who have jointly won the second half of the prize, have been awarded “for the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the centre of our galaxy”, the academy said.


In a statement, the Academy said this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics is shared among three Laureates for their discoveries about “one of the most exotic phenomena in the universe, the black hole”.

“Roger Penrose showed that the general theory of relativity leads to the formation of black holes. Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez discovered that an invisible and extremely heavy object governs the orbits of stars at the centre of our galaxy,” the Academy said.

Elaborating on the research further, the statement said Roger Penrose used ingenious mathematical methods in his proof that black holes are a direct consequence of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

According to the statement, Einstein himself did not believe that black holes really exist.

However, in January 1965, ten years after Einstein’s death, Roger Penrose proved that black holes really can form and described them in detail; at their heart, black holes hide a singularity in which all the known laws of nature cease.

“His ground-breaking article is still regarded as the most important contribution to the general theory of relativity since Einstein,” the Academy said in its statement.

Speaking about the work done by Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez, the Academy said each of them lead a group of astronomers that, since the early 1990s, has focused on a region called Sagittarius A* at the centre of our galaxy-Milky Way.

“The orbits of the brightest stars closest to the middle of the Milky Way have been mapped with increasing precision. The measurements of these two groups agree, with both finding an extremely heavy, invisible object that pulls on the jumble of stars, causing them to rush around at dizzying speeds. Around four million solar masses are packed together in a region no larger than our solar system,” the statement said.

For their research, Genzel and Ghez used the world’s largest telescopes and developed methods to see through the huge clouds of interstellar gas and dust to the centre of the Milky Way.

“Stretching the limits of technology, they refined new techniques to compensate for distortions caused by the Earth’s atmosphere, building unique instruments and committing themselves to long-term research. Their pioneering work has given us the most convincing evidence yet of a supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way.”

Meanwhile, commenting on the research done by this year’s winners, David Haviland, chair of the Nobel Committee for Physics, said their discoveries have “broken new ground in the study of compact and supermassive objects”.

“But these exotic objects still pose many questions that beg for answers and motivate future research. Not only questions about their inner structure, but also questions about how to test our theory of gravity under the extreme conditions in the immediate vicinity of a black hole,” he said.

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